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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-03-01 - 2026-02-28

While dysphagia (oropharyngeal dysphagia, OD) is primarily studied from a medical point of view, many issues remain unclear in the interplay between food properties, culinary processes and oral processing. In particular, the interplay between physical variables such as oral surface adhesion ("stickiness") , internal structural cohesion ("binding strength"), fracture behavior, and oral motor behavior as a function of gender and age are poorly understood. As a result, many approaches to improving the quality of life of people suffering from OD through food texture modifications are often subjective and not based on scientific principles. This increases the risk of unsafe and inefficient food intake, leading to medical and economic consequences such as increased pneumonia rates, malnutrition, and prolonged hospital stays. In addition, this has a significant impact on the quality of life for affected patients. The main objective of the project is to identify essential physical aspects that control surface adhesion, structural cohesion and fracture behavior in food products. Based on these parameters, applicable guidelines for targeted product creation in consistency-modified food forms will be generated. These guidelines will be tested on healthy individuals based on model foods and kitchen-engineered prototypes in order to obtain systematic feedback for further investigations and applications in patients with dysphagia.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-10-01 - 2024-07-31

The food value chain is the backbone of society but far from aligned with the Paris climate target or the European Green Deal as about one third of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are emanating from this area. About half of these emissions are due to meat production which appropriates about 80% of agricultural land for feed production, contributing to biodiversity loss and natural habitat destruction. The level of meat intake in Western societies decreases life expectancy and puts a heavy burden on health systems. Based on this assessment, the unsustainable footprint of meat production may be disrupted by policy makers that adapt agricultural and/or climate policies, consumers that shy away from meat products for climate, health or animal wellbeing reasons, new technologies that substitute meat products by offering the same sensual experience at lower cost and superior quality. This project explores the likely disruptive impact of regulators, incumbents, consumers, or startups (RISC) and elaborates diffusion curves for meat alternatives based on in depth analysis of these potential disruptors. The diffusion scenarios are then used to assess the impact of the most likely scenarios of the food value chain in terms of production, value added, employment and GHG emissions.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-01-01 - 2023-12-31

The aim of the project is to develop an innovative biofilm imitate test system, which will be used to validate and optimize cleaning and decontamination concepts in the industry. The novelty lies in the fact that a microbial-free biofilm imitate is coupled with an innovative test system to ensure a practically oriented cleaning verification. None of the currently available test methods assesses the cleaning efficiency against biofilms, although they are the most common cause of contamination in the food industry. The test system, which is being developed in the course of the biofilm imitate project, is, in comparison, specially designed for the detection of microbial accumulations or biofilms and is therefore practice-oriented and more efficient than traditional test methods. This approach of using engineered microorganism-free biofilms shows multiple advantages that can facilitate the understanding of biofilm behavior. The knowledge gained in the course of the development of the test method is essential for the future hygienic and safe food production. In the project, a native biofilm reference matrix will be developed, and a cleaning test system for the comparison of biofilm reference and biofilm imitate will be established. Subsequently, a formulation including the manufacturing process of a biofilm imitate matrix is developed. Innovative methods from the field of rheology and microscopy will be combined to characterize the biofilm imitate. The next project phase is iterative, where the developed biofilm imitate matrix, compared to its biofilm reference, is subjected to a previously defined cleaning process to check whether the same cleaning-relevant properties could be achieved. Finally, the method is validated in an industrial environment.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations